Dave Pickett, who looks after Flanders Moss National Nature Reserve, follows his introduction to this central-belt gem with a short piece looking at one resident in particular – the lizard.
Sometimes when you visit a nature reserve it can be a bit disappointing as you have gone to see nature but none is about. Well, pick a sunny day and take a stroll around the Flanders Moss and you will be sure to see wildlife … lizards abound right at your feet.
The moss has always been a great spot for reptiles and amphibians, the pools and ditches good for frogs, toads and newts and the drier areas good for lizards and adders but seeing them can be difficult.
The moss is hard walking and a slip into a deep water filled ditch can spoil your day. But as soon as we put in the boardwalk the lizards took to it immediately. For them it provides an ideal basking place where they can sit on top and warm up in the sun but if it rains or turns cold or people come along then they can just slip between the treads to safety.
The wide flat spaces of the boardwalk also offer great feeding areas were quick darts can bag a lizard their main food flies. Of course the boardwalk was put in to give people a flat, dry easy path to enjoy the moss so when a feature is put in that brings people and wildlife together it adds to the excitement of a visit.
Over time the Moss has become well known as a good place to see lizards, if you go slowly and quietly and are light on your feet then you can see the smaller, blacker, this year’s youngsters and mixed in the occasional bigger adults resplendent is their beautiful green, black and blue mosaic overalls.
I have met many parents and children who have come across the central belt just to see the lizards on the boardwalk, so many that we considered changing the name of the NNR to Lizard NNR. So never mind Springwatch or Summerwatch, if you fancy a walk and an encounter with real life wildlife, and real miniature dragons at that, then take a sunny walk on the boardwalk of Flanders Moss NNR.